MONTICELLO — A new high school in Monticello should sport a traditional look on the outside, but feature a modern atmosphere inside. That seemed to be the preference of the 60 who gathered for the final Sage Voices public input session.
The school district is considering a ballot question that would ask for approval to build a high school estimated to cost $35 million.
"For the exterior, we kind of went with the more traditional — what looks more like Monticello," said Annie Camacho, a local graduate who now teaches for the district. Her report was one of about 10 given Thursday night after a small group exercise. Participants were asked to choose the aspects they favored out of 30 photographs of the interior and exterior of other school buildings.
And while ultra-modern indoor features such as glass walls did not go over well with her group, Camacho said faculty would welcome other modern amenities in their classrooms.
"The white boards? Fantastic. We could do so much with things like that in our classroom that we don't have," Camacho said. "My current white board (at the high school) — you can't even erase it, so this would be awesome."
She also likes the potential flexibility of more mobile chairs and desks, and better in-class storage.
Nearly every group agreed with the more traditional, brick-and-mortar exterior, saying that would have a better shelf life than trendier looks that could fall out of date in the future.
Other proposals included a shout-out to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello estate in Virginia, and several liked the idea of combining sports facilities in one area to make it easier on parents who have children participating in different activities.
At least three of the small groups also felt teacher input was critical if a new high school is constructed.
"Our one big thing we decided was that we really feel whatever the teachers need is the way we should go," Emily Zelhart commented in her group's report.
The next step is a six-question community survey that will be sent out this weekend to registered voters in the district, asking for additional input as the school determines the future of its facilities. Previous community input meetings have steered the district in the direction of a new high school.
If a new high school is instructed, another $5 million would also be spent renovating the current high school/Washington Elementary campus into a district-wide pre-K to fifth-grade facility. That would likely result in the closing of two buildings — White Heath Elementary and Lincoln Elementary.
The Sage Voices effort will compile input from the survey and four public meetings, then present a report to the Monticello school board on July 16.
Steve Hoffman is editor of the Piatt County Journal-Republican, a News-Gazette community newspaper. For more, visit www.journal-republican.com.